Don’t Blame Your Talent Failure on your ATS


Today I will share the story of how my part-time employer, Adelphi University, tried to pass the blame of a botched search on their ATS. As a result, I was the unlucky applicant who was passed over for a position I was qualified for.

I don’t usually share personal insights of HR screw ups, however as the recipient I now feel the pain of some many applicants who have faced a similar fate. So, bear with me and indulge me for a couple of minutes as I spin this tale. I promise a lesson learned at the end too.

So, the story starts in January when I applied for a full- time lecturer role in the business school, where I have been an adjunct for 7 years. During this time, I have taught about 20 classes, been recognized for teaching excellence as the adjunct of the year in 2012 as well as HR Executive Magazine awarding me HR Best Ideas in 2013 related to my teaching as well. I always score tops in student evals, help students with resumes, interview prep, recommendations, advise, and even hired a couple after they left my class as interns at Marcum LLP. One might surmise between my business accomplishments and teaching accomplishments I would be a shoe in for this role.

Well from day one the process fell apart. Taleo, the university’s ATS software, continued to error code my application. I contacted HR a couple of times with information along with my CV before they acknowledged passing my resume on to the business school. It was obvious from day one they relied completely on the ATS workflow and had no contingency plans for bypassing the system.

The situation grew as the business school only looked at the ATS for workflow, so my resume went to sock heaven…never to be heard from again.

As the weeks rolled on I heard nothing, no emails, phone calls or conversations of any kind. I assertively reached out to several folks including the Provost, Dean of the business school, HR, even the President of the University. I requested meetings that were denied (the President of the university said no twice – as I was told her schedule was to full).  The Dean refused to intervene in the process. He said it wasn’t his place. I pleaded with him and said he was ultimately responsible for signing off on the hire and pleaded that he consider the situation. This fell on deaf ears too.

No one over 4 months asked the simple question? Did the selection committee have my resume and did they look at it?

It was unbelievable. I offered advice, I asked repeatedly for answers, but all I got was dead silence and procrastination. Eventually I heard thru the grape vine that they made a hire and it wasn’t me….

Finally, after 6 months, the Associate Provost and head of HR gave me an hour with the executive director of the union on my hip (never in a million years would I think I would have the union on my side of the table). After over 30 emails and several conversations their response was: “We Fu#%ed up”.

I though no kidding. Once the ATS system failed the whole process failed. No one knew what to do. They didn’t even realize how dependent they were on the software till this situation was finally investigated. It was a complete talent process failure from end to end. A colossal disaster and a perfect example of why you should not rely only on your software.


Ok, so the moral of the story:

Look at how your own organization utilizes your software workflow and find the potential flaws.

Train HR to manual load CV’s and utilize your I.T. and software to help if you can fix it yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and check in when an employee points out a problem with the recruiting process.

Have a plan to workflow candidates if your ATS fails or crashes.

And treat your internal applicants with a little dignity and respect. Had the President given me 15 minutes and checked at the front end of this issue it may have been rectified, same with the Dean just asking a 15 second question of the committee. But they didn’t and I am not sure why? It wasn’t important or maybe I was not a valued employee? And we spend hours talking about employee engagement???

Anyway, don’t ever blame your software, its only as good as you are and maybe even a little better when it works….

For me I am not done with this saga and I am sure it will be a great discussion in my HR class in the Fall.

The post Don’t Blame Your Talent Failure on your ATS appeared first on Fistful of Talent.

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